Our pundits are getting weak-kneed at the sight of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wearing native garb on their visit to Pakistan.
Not only that, but Kate was turned out in the style popularised by her late mother-in-law, who did feel that special something for Pakistan.
I don’t understand why our future king and queen should indulge in this sartorial exercise. What’s wrong with the clothes of their own civilisation and rank? After all, the apparel oft proclaims not only a man, but also his culture.
Respecting other cultures doesn’t presuppose adopting them or abandoning one’s own, if only temporarily. Indian and Pakistani politicians make that point by routinely wearing their own dress at official functions in England, and I don’t recall ever seeing, say, Nehru clad in white tie.
Had Queen Victoria ever visited the subcontinent, one can’t easily imagine her wearing a sari, with a turban-topped Prince Albert by her side. In those days British royals didn’t have to apologise for being either British or royal.
One can understand a Western woman taking her shoes off and covering her head in a mosque, or a Western man donning a skullcap in a synagogue. Places of worship are like private clubs that are within their rights to impose house rules.
But Pakistan is a country, not a mosque. It’s part of the Commonwealth of Nations (née the British Empire) of which William will be head one day. He and his wife are thus constitutionally obliged to treat all member nations with courtesy – but without ever demeaning the dignity of their office.
One suspects that in this case they were inspired not by an all-abiding love of exotica, but by our multi-culti Zeitgeist. That’s most unfortunate, for the monarchy is by definition a conservative institution that must act as a bulwark against the perverse aspects of modernity, not kowtow to them.
It’s not just the royals either. Every time female TV reporters do their thing in a Muslim country, they feel obliged to wear a head scarf. Why?
Are they trying to camouflage themselves as Muslim women? If so, a head scarf alone wouldn’t do the job. A burka is a must, and perhaps also a pair of dark glasses if the reporter’s eyes are some non-Islamic colour.
If the sight of a bareheaded woman offends Muslim men, they should contain their brittle sensibilities – as we do when seeing gaggles of burka-clad women overrunning those boutiques in Knightsbridge.
Anyway, all this raises a tantalising question. What if Will and Kate next visit a Commonwealth country where both men and women tend to wear nothing but a loincloth?
Will Kate… no, I shouldn’t let my fantasies run wild. Most unseemly at my age. Instead, after all these years, I must finally bring myself to put that notorious issue of Closer magazine on e-bay.